Safety belts prevented approximately 15,000 deaths in 2017.
Shoulder belts and lap belts lower the number of total fatal injuries by approximately sixty percent for drivers and passengers in SUVs, trucks, and vans. Fatal injuries are reduced by approximately forty-five percent for drivers and passengers in cars. Not every driver and passenger consistently uses safety belts.
If more drivers and passengers used safety belts, approximately 2,500 vehicle deaths would not occur. Fifty percent of the individuals who suffered fatal injuries during car accidents were not wearing safety belts. Safety belt laws and regulations increase the overall rate of safety belt use by drivers and passengers. Rigorous enforcement can also make it more likely that drivers and passengers will use safety belts.
Yet safety belts are used by more people in states that feature primary enforcement laws. Under these regulations, law enforcement officers can make traffic stops if they see drivers and passengers not wearing safety belts. Other states use a tool known as secondary enforcement. Law enforcement officers can address safety belt violations only if they make a traffic stop for a different offense.
If you have suffered injuries during a car accident, contact Arash Law today to schedule a free consultation. We have decades of experience representing clients in personal injury cases. We have recovered over $200 million for clients throughout California.
Call Arash Law today at (888) 488-1391 to learn more about the legal services we offer.
Safety Belts and Their Importance
Car accidents are incredibly dangerous events that can cause serious bodily injury and death. Drivers and passengers may be ejected from an automobile during a severe collision. Also, individuals inside an automobile may suffer injuries from being thrown around inside a vehicle during a rollover accident. Safety belts are designed to prevent serious bodily injury and death during car accidents.
Some automobiles may slow down or come to a complete stop after being in an accident with a stationary object or another vehicle. However, drivers and passengers inside the vehicle will continue moving in space after the vehicle stops. Safety belts prevent serious bodily injury and death by keeping occupants stable inside the vehicle during an accident. The automobile itself will move and absorb the majority of the impact from an accident, and the drivers and passengers will not move around in the automobile.
As long as drivers and passengers wear seat belts in the appropriate manner, the force of the impact caused by an accident is less likely to cause serious bodily injury or death. Safety belts are designed to distribute impact forces over the pelvis, rib cage, and shoulder. Also, occupants may suffer serious bodily injury or death if they are thrown from an automobile during an accident. Safety belts can keep occupants stable inside the automobile.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers and passengers who are thrown from automobiles during non-rollover accidents are two times more likely to lose their lives. Drivers and passengers who are thrown from vehicles in rollover accidents suffer fatalities at double the rate of those involved in non-rollover accidents. Individuals who do not wear safety belts also put others at risk of serious bodily injury or death. During front-end car accidents, those who are sitting in the front seats may suffer injuries from individuals sitting in the back seats who are not wearing safety belts.
When a vehicle is struck from the side, those occupants sitting next to passengers who are not wearing safety belts may suffer serious bodily injury or death. All occupants should wear safety belts to protect others inside the vehicle. If you suffered injuries during a car accident, contact Arash Law today to schedule a free consultation. We have decades of experience representing clients in personal injury cases. We have recovered over $200 million for clients throughout California.
We serve clients in San Francisco, Riverside, Sacramento, San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sherman Oaks, and throughout California. We have collected over $200 million for clients across California. Those who share an automobile with drivers and passengers who do not wear safety belts are forty percent more likely to suffer serious bodily injury or death. During front-end car accidents, back seat passengers who do not wear safety belts increase the risk that the driver will die by one hundred and thirty-seven percent.
This risk is lower if the passenger sitting in the back seat wears a safety belt. All occupants, whether they are sitting in the back seat or the front seat, lower their likelihood of suffering injuries if they wear safety belts. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, those who sit in the front seats of automobiles are forty-five percent less likely to suffer fatalities if they wear lap belts and shoulder belts. Properly wearing safety belts can reduce the risk of occupants experiencing nonfatal injuries by fifty percent.
Drivers and passengers in the front seats of SUVs, trucks, and vans who use safety belts lower their risk of dying during a car accident by sixty percent. Those same individuals lower their risk of nonfatal injuries by sixty-five percent. Individuals sitting in the center area of the back seat can be vulnerable to suffering serious injuries during car accidents. If these occupants wear shoulder belts and lap belts, they lower their likelihood of suffering a fatal injury by approximately fifty-eight percent in cars and up to seventy-five percent in trucks, vans, and SUVs.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, after assessing data related to car accidents, estimated that safety belts prevented approximately 14,000 deaths in 2017. Also, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that approximately 69,000 lives were saved due to safety belts between 2013 and 2017. If every passenger over the age of four had worn safety belts, approximately 2,500 deaths could have been prevented.
What If a Vehicle Only Has a Lap Belt?
Safety belts need to fit drivers and passengers properly to prevent serious bodily injury and death. Children often grow out of their child safety seats, and it is important for parents to use belt-positioning boosters when traveling with their children. Shoulder belts should be secure against the shoulder and chest of the occupant. It is important that shoulder belts not rest on the face or neck.
It is also dangerous if a shoulder belt hangs off an occupant’s shoulder. All lap belts should rest comfortably on the hips and thighs but not on the stomach. All occupants should consult the owner’s manual of the vehicle they are traveling in to make sure they are wearing safety belts in the proper manner. Individuals who are in the market for a new vehicle should make sure to try on the safety belts and determine if they fit you and your family members who will be using the automobile.
If the safety belts do not fit, it may be necessary to have them customized to make them more effective. D-rings allow drivers and passengers to lower or raise shoulder belts. If you need assistance regarding D-Rings, contact the automotive dealer or read the owner’s manual. Also, belt extenders can make your safety belt longer if it is too short. Some belt extenders are proprietary and need to be purchased from the automobile manufacturer.
Safety belts should be worn properly to prevent serious bodily injury and death, but any type of restraint is safer than wearing no safety belt whatsoever. Lap belts by themselves are safer than no safety belt at all. Drivers and passengers should take advantage of any type of safety belt that is available to them inside an automobile. Rear seats in vehicles made before 2007 may only feature lap belts but no shoulder belts.
Now all automobiles come equipped with three-point safety belts in every seat. Many studies have been conducted regarding fatal car accidents and individuals riding in the back seat. One study examined fatal car accidents and backseat passengers older than five years old.
The proper use of lap belts lowered the likelihood of fatalities for outboard passengers by approximately thirty-two percent in cars and approximately sixty-three percent in SUVs and vans. Lap belts alone did not offer as much protection as lap belts and shoulder belts together. However, using lap belts by themselves is better than using no restraint at all.
Using Safety Belts
The vast majority of drivers and passengers in the United States use safety belts. In 2019, approximately ninety-one percent of drivers and eighty-nine percent of front-seat passengers used safety belts. Back-seat passengers are less likely to use safety belts. Only seventy-eight percent of backseat passengers used safety belts in 2019. Approximately fifty percent of drivers who operated passenger vehicles and fifty-three percent of front passengers who died in 2019 were wearing safety belts.
Twenty-nine percent of passengers thirteen years of age and older who suffered fatal injuries and who traveled in the back seat of vehicles wore safety belts. Safety belt use is less frequent among those who suffered fatal injuries during car accidents. The risk of dying during a car accident is higher when drivers and passengers do not wear safety belts. Those who do not wear safety belts also tend to take more risks while driving.
According to the Transportation Research Board, the rate of safety belt use in 2019 among vehicle occupants was six times higher than the rate of safety belt use in 1983. Numerous studies depict the developing changes in safety belt use among both drivers and passengers between 1983 and 2019. Young adults and male occupants use safety belts at lower rates than other demographic groups. Approximately eighty-eight percent of vehicle occupants aged sixteen to twenty-four used safety belts.
Approximately ninety-one percent of occupants ages twenty-five to sixty-nine used safety belts. The rate increased to ninety-two percent for those occupants seventy years of age and older. According to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, eight-nine percent of males and ninety-three percent of females used safety belts during this same time period. Drivers of trucks had the lowest rate of safety belt use among all drivers. Only eighty-six percent of truck drivers used safety belts.
Approximately ninety-one percent of the people who drove cars used safety belts, and ninety-three percent of the people who drove vans and SUVs used safety belts. Safety belt use rates are less for those drivers and passengers who use older automobiles. Also, safety belt use is lower among drivers who have consumed alcohol. A ten-year study concerning safety belt use revealed that safety belt use for those who died during car accidents was eighteen points less during the evening.
Those who drive during the night without wearing safety belts have more traffic violations and criminal arrests than drivers who use safety belts during the night. Daytime drivers, whether wearing a safety belt or not, have fewer traffic violations and fewer criminal arrests. A 2012 survey revealed several reasons why drivers and passengers do not use safety belts. Most drivers and passengers reported using safety belts some of the time but not every time they drove or rode in a vehicle.
These reasons include feeling uncomfortable wearing a safety belt, forgetting to wear a safety belt, and driving for a short amount of time. Some individuals reported never using safety belts, and their reasons varied. The most common reasons included not wanting to be told what to do, not believing a safety belt was necessary, and feeling uncomfortable while driving.
A survey conducted in 2016 found that most adults who refrain from wearing safety belts do so because they think that sitting in the back seat is safer than sitting in the front seat. If you have suffered injuries during a car accident, contact Arash Law today to schedule a free consultation. We have decades of experience representing clients in personal injury cases. We have recovered over $200 million dollars for clients throughout California.
We serve clients in San Francisco, Riverside, Sacramento, San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sherman Oaks, and throughout California. We have collected over $200 million for clients across California. Call Arash Law today at (888) 488-1391 to learn more about the legal services we offer.
Laws and Regulations
The District of Columbia and every state except New Hampshire require adults sitting in the front seat of an automobile to wear safety belts. Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia regulate those who sit in the back seat of vehicles. Specific laws concern children and their use of safety belts while traveling in an automobile.
Child Restraint Laws and Seat Belt Laws
The District of Columbia and thirty-four U.S. states use primary enforcement laws. These provisions permit law enforcement officers to make a traffic stop and write a citation if a driver or passenger is not wearing a safety belt. Some states use secondary enforcement laws. These permit law enforcement officers to enforce safety belt laws only if another infraction warrants a traffic stop.
Those states using primary enforcement laws are better at changing the behavior of drivers and passengers. States, where primary enforcement laws were in effect, had front-seat safety belt use rates that were six percent higher than safety belt use rates in states that did not have primary enforcement laws. These studies were conducted by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis.
Drivers who completed self-reported surveys revealed that the rate of not using a safety belt at all was double in those states with secondary enforcement laws compared with states using primary enforcement laws. When states convert from a secondary enforcement model to a primary enforcement model, safety belt use increases by fourteen percentage points. Reviews of the research literature reveal that primary enforcement laws and secondary enforcement laws lower the fatality rate and the occurrence of nonfatal accidents.
However, primary enforcement laws produce lower fatality rates than secondary enforcement laws. A range of three to fourteen percent exists for the effect of primary enforcement laws and secondary enforcement laws on car accident fatalities. Car accidents decrease by seven percent when a state transitions from secondary enforcement laws to primary enforcement laws.
Approximately two hundred and thirty-nine lives could have been saved in 2019 if all states that used secondary enforcement laws had transitioned to primary enforcement laws. Secondary enforcement laws were instituted by state legislatures who feared police officers might use primary enforcement laws to discriminate against minorities during traffic stops. Many research studies reveal that minorities suffer less discrimination in states that use a primary enforcement law model regarding safety belt use.
Related: The Definitive Guide To Car Seat Safety for Kids
Some States Require Safety Belt Use Among Back Seat Passengers
In those states that mandate the use of safety belts in all seats inside automobiles, approximately eighty-four percent of those passengers who rode in the back seat of cars used safety belts in 2017. In states that required only front-seat occupants to wear safety belts, the figure dropped to sixty-three percent. Increased penalties, fees, and fines regarding safety belt infractions also cause higher rates of safety belt use. These states that have increased fines also see increased rates of safety belt use by front-seat drivers and passengers who died in car accidents.
Fine increases from twenty-five dollars to sixty dollars caused a four percentage point increase in safety belt use. Fine increases from twenty-five dollars to one hundred dollars caused a six to seven percentage point increase. Research studies demonstrate that enforcement campaigns like Click It or Ticket can raise safety belts over time and keep them at a high level. North Carolina instituted the first Click It or Ticket program in the United States in 1993.
Safety belt use among all drivers increased from sixty-four percent to eighty percent. This increase occurred after the program had been in effect for only three weeks. A majority of U.S. states permit adults to ride as passengers in the beds of trucks, but these truck beds are made to transfer cargo and do not come equipped with safety belts. Children and adults may be thrown from a truck bed even at low rates of speed when a truck driver attempts to avoid a collision.
The District of Columbia and thirty U.S. states have laws affecting passengers riding in the beds of pickup trucks. The majority of these laws relate to keeping children out of cargo areas.
Safety Belt Reminder Systems and Interlock Devices
Federal laws and safety standards mandate that automobiles feature safety belt reminder systems. These systems should come equipped with a warning light and a notice that lasts four to eight seconds. Audio reminders that only last four to eight seconds are less effective than audio notices that last for longer periods of time. The majority of automobile manufacturers design their automobiles to contain safety belt reminder devices that prolong the visual and audio notices.
The more prolonged these systems are, the more likely it is that drivers and passengers will use safety belts. Safety belt use among those who used safety belts only some of the time increased by one-third when a prolonged audio reminder that lasted at least one hundred seconds was used. Back seat safety belt reminders are not mandated by federal law in the United States.
Congress directed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to begin establishing rules regarding back seat safety belt warning systems. Volvo was the first automobile manufacturer to have an alert system notifying a driver when passengers in the rear seats were not wearing safety belts. Other automobile manufacturers equipped cars and trucks with audio warning devices that detected safety belt use among rear seat passengers.
The majority of automobiles sold in the United States do not come with any back seat safety belt warning system. A research study in 2012 found that more than seventy-five percent of drivers wanted to see safety belt reminder systems installed in automobiles to alert the driver when children in the rear seats were not wearing safety belts. Ignition interlock systems will prevent a driver from using a vehicle if both the driver and the passenger in the front seat are not wearing safety belts.
Ignition interlock devices can increase the rate of safety belt use. These devices have a complex history. The United States Congress banned safety belt interlock systems in the 1970s. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had required all automobiles without airbags to feature safety belt interlock systems. A highway reauthorization law in 2012 removed these restrictions.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can now allow automobile manufacturers to equip automobiles with safety belt interlock systems as a means to meet federal safety standards. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a study involving those who only wore safety belts some of the time. Speed-reducing interlock systems raised safety belt use among this population by thirty-three percent. Gear Shift interlock systems raised safety belt use by sixteen percent.
Drivers can get around interlock devices. Some drivers will buckle the safety belt behind their backs or sit on the safety belt. Some research study participants felt uncomfortable and unsafe being unable to drive their automobiles in case of an emergency. Approximately seventy percent of those who only wore safety belts some of the time, and approximately forty-four percent of those who never used safety belts, stated they would wear safety belts if they had to use ignition interlock devices. These same participants did not think ignition interlock devices should be installed in their automobiles.
Safety Belt Technology
In the past few years, safety belts have developed into complex devices. Safety belts now work together with airbag deployment systems to maximize the protection offered by both safety belts and airbags. Crash tensioners are embedded machines that force safety belts to fit tightly around drivers and passengers when a car accident happens. Safety belts also come equipped with force limiters. These devices force webbing to reduce the force a driver or occupant suffers during a car accident.
Force Limiters and Crash Tensioners Are Not Featured on Many Rear Seat Safety Belt Systems
Inflatable belts are used by some automobile manufacturers to protect rear passengers during car accidents. Inflatable belts may lower the risk of chest, neck, and head injuries. The force of the impact is spread across a larger area, and the passenger is less likely to suffer serious bodily injury or death. A safety belt airbag expands with compressed gas immediately before a collision. These belts can reduce the likelihood of passengers suffering serious bodily injury or death.
Contact Arash Law Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
If you have suffered injuries in a car accident, contact Arash Law today to schedule a free consultation. We have decades of experience representing clients in personal injury cases. We have recovered over $200 million for clients across California.
We serve clients in San Francisco, Riverside, Sacramento, San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sherman Oaks, and throughout California. We have collected over $200 million for clients across the state. Call Arash Law today at (888) 488-1391 to learn more about the legal services we offer.